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STOP! Reading

| Learning | August 16, 2016

(My brother learned how to read young, before starting school. This caused a bit of a stir when he started kindergarten.)

Teacher: “Now, sir, just because a child sees a red octagonal sign and says ‘Stop’ does not mean the child is reading.”

Dad: “So what’s it mean when a child sees a red and white rectangular sign and says ‘Dad, what’s a snow emergency?'”

Teacher: “Well, that doesn’t happen.”

Dad: “Okay. Son, go get one of the books from that shelf there.”

(The teacher has a shelf of her education textbooks. My brother goes and picks one.)

Teacher: “Sir, those books are going to be much too hard for him.”

Dad: “That’s okay. Go ahead, son.”

(My brother starts reading. He makes sure to read the title and author before going to chapter one. Of course, being five, who knows how much he understood what he was reading, but he was reading it. For some reason, when I started kindergarten the next year the school didn’t try to say I couldn’t read…)

I Didn’t Planet This Way

| Learning | July 10, 2016

(It is the 90s and I’m five years old. My kindergarten teacher had just brought in a model solar system to teach us the planets. She goes over them one at a time and eventually gets to Pluto.)

Me: “Where’s Pluto?”

Teacher: “It’s this one. *points to Pluto*

Me: “That’s not a planet. Planets are big.”

Teacher: “They can be many different sizes, and they’re all much bigger in real life.”

Me: “It’s so far away from the other planets.”

Teacher: “There are lots of other planets that are nowhere near those ones.”

Me: “It looks like a moon.”

Teacher: “Well, it’s not.”

Me: “It’s in an oval instead of a circle.”

Teacher: “Those circles represent the planets’ orbits. Pluto’s orbit is stretched out, so it is represented by an oval.”

Me: “I still don’t think it’s a planet.”

Teacher: “Trust me, it is.”

(We ended up getting into a heated argument over Pluto’s status as a planet. It was similar to what most people would imagine a fight between a five-year-old and a professional adult would be like and I got sent home early. For the next few days I was insistent that Pluto wasn’t a planet and acted like a brat about it. About a decade later, my mother heard that Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore and laughed hysterically. When I asked her why, she told me this story.)

Kids And Squids

| Learning | June 21, 2016

(My step-sister is teaching a kindergarten German class once a week, and I volunteer to help her. Note: our mothers are a couple.)

Sister: “Today we’re going to learn the German words for family members. [Student], why don’t you go and draw der Vater (the father) on the board?”

Student: “I can’t draw the father. I can only draw squid.”

(My sister and I exchange glances.)

Sister: “All right, you can draw a squid.”

(After all the children are finished drawing, we point to each drawing and have the students name them in German. Somehow, even though all the drawings look like random scribbles to me, the children know what each other’s drawings are — until we get to the squid.)

Student #2: “What’s that?”

(My sister and I realize we have an unprecedented opportunity to teach the children more than German.)

Me: “That’s a squid. You see, some families have a mother and a father.”

Students: *nod*

Sister: “…and some families have two mothers, or two fathers.”

Students: *nod*

Me: “And some families have squid!”

(And they just accepted everything we told them!)

Almost Became PG For A Moment There

| Learning | April 5, 2016

(I teach kindergarten and also monitor the playground during recess. Two of my students get into an argument. Neither is being violent, so I decide not to interfere but keep an eye on them just in case. They were originally fighting over who was more deserving of the title “king of the world” but it eventually devolved into both children flinging what they consider to be insults.)

Boy #1: “You’re a meany!”

Boy #2: “You’re a bossy boots!”

Boy #1: “You’re a poo-face!”

Boy #2: “You’re stupid-head!”

Boy #1: “You’re an ugly booger-bum!”

Boy #2: “You have worm breath!”

Boy #1: “You’re a chicken!”

Boy #2: “You’re a pig!”

Boy #1: “You’re a truck with every animal in the world in it!”

Boy #2: “You’re a pee-pants!”

Boy #1: “You’re a c-word, s-word, f-word, and b-word put together!”

Boy #2: “What’s that?”

(I get nervous since the feud can be heard across the playground. I try to stop the boy from saying it but by the time I get there it’s too late and he blurts it out.)


(I burst out laughing.)

Boy #1: “What’s funny?”

Me: “Uh… I remembered a joke.”

Boy #1: “Can I hear it?”

Me: “It’s a teacher joke; you won’t get it.”

Boy #1: “Okay, bye.”

(The boys got distracted and ended their feud before recess was over. I got a good story out of it to tell my friends, who all thought it was hilarious, so it ended up being a win-win.)

This story is part of our Kindergarten roundup!

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The Story Takes A Dark Turn

| Learning | February 22, 2016

(I’m talking with the children about the elements of story — character, setting, problem, solution, ending, heart-connection.)

Me: “So, when we were babies in diapers, we liked stories that went, ‘This is Billy’s truck. This is Billy’s teddy bear.’ But now we’re big, and we want something to happen in the story!”

Child: “Yeah, and when you put toys in the baby’s diaper, they get pooped on.”

Me: *silent stare*

Child: “Y’know, Mommy doesn’t like that…”